Belgian Federal Parliament

Last updated
Belgian Federal Parliament

Emblem of the Belgian Senate.svg
Emblem of the Senate
Emblem of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives.svg
Type
Type
Bicameral (de facto unicameral)
Houses Senate
Chamber
Leadership
Stephanie D'Hose, Open VLD
since 13 October 2020
Eliane Tillieux, PS
since 13 October 2020
Structure
Seats210
60 Senators
150 Representatives
Belgium Senate 2019.svg
Senate political groups
Government (37)
  •   PS (7)
  •   MR (7)
  •   CD&V (5)
  •   Ecolo (5)
  •   VLD (5)
  •   Groen (4)
  •   sp.a (4)

Opposition (23)

Belgium Chamber of Representatives 2019.svg
Chamber political groups
Government (87)

Opposition (63)

Elections
Indirect election
Open list proportional representation within eleven constituencies, with 5% constituency electoral thresholds
Chamber last election
May 26, 2019
Meeting place
Palais de la Nation Bruxelles.jpg
Palace of the Nation, Brussels
Website
www.fed-parl.be

The Belgian Federal Parliament is the bicameral parliament of Belgium. It consists of the Chamber of Representatives (Dutch: Loudspeaker.svg Kamer van Volksvertegenwoordigers  , French : Chambre des Représentants, German : Abgeordnetenkammer) and the Senate (Dutch: Loudspeaker.svg Senaat  , French : Sénat, German : Senat). It sits in the Palace of the Nation (French : Palais de la Nation, Dutch : Paleis der Natie, German : Palast der Nation). The Chamber of Representatives is the primary legislative body; the Senate functions only as a meeting place of the federal communities and regions.

Contents

The Constitution does not mention the Federal Parliament as such; it stipulates that the federal legislative power is exercised by the King and the Chamber of Representatives (and exceptionally the Senate), and defines when the United Chambers convene.

Chamber of Representatives

The Chamber of Representatives holds its plenary meetings in the Palace of the Nation, Brussels. Eligibility requirements for the Chamber are a minimum age of 21, citizenship, and residency in Belgium.

The number of seats in the Chamber is constitutionally set at 150 elected from 11 electoral districts. The districts are divided along linguistic lines: 5 Flemish (79 seats), 5 Walloon (49 seats), and the bilingual district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde (22 seats). The districts are the provinces, except for the districts of Leuven (part of Flemish Brabant) and Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde. Each district is given a number of seats proportional to its population (not number of voters) ranging from 4 for Luxembourg to 24 for Antwerp. All districts have an electoral threshold of 5%, except for Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde and Leuven; all districts are monolingual, except for Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde which encompasses both the 19 bilingual municipalities from the Brussels-Capital region and some 35 Dutch-speaking municipalities in Flemish Brabant, incl. 7 with language facilities for French-speakers.

The current composition was elected at the federal elections of 2019.

e    d  Summary of the results of the 26 May 2019 Belgian election to the Chamber of Representatives
  2014 2019
Belgium Chamber of Representatives 2019.svg
2024  
PartyLeader(s)Votes%+/–Seats+/–
New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) Bart De Wever 1,086,78716.034.23 Decrease2.svg
25 / 150
8 Decrease2.svg
Flemish Interest (VB) Tom Van Grieken 810,17711.958.28 Increase2.svg
18 / 150
15 Increase2.svg
Socialist Party (PS) Paul Magnette 641,6239.462.21 Decrease2.svg
20 / 150
3 Decrease2.svg
Christian Democratic & Flemish (CD&V) Joachim Coens 602,5208.892.72 Decrease2.svg
12 / 150
6 Decrease2.svg
Workers' Party of Belgium (PVDA-PTB) Peter Mertens 584,6218.624.90 Increase2.svg
12 / 150
10 Increase2.svg
Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats (Open VLD) Egbert Lachaert 579,3348.541.24 Decrease2.svg
12 / 150
2 Decrease2.svg
Reformist Movement (MR) George-Louis Bouchez 512,8257.562.08 Decrease2.svg
14 / 150
6 Decrease2.svg
Socialist Party Differently (sp.a) Conner Rousseau 455,0346.712.12 Decrease2.svg
9 / 150
4 Decrease2.svg
Ecolo Jean-Marc Nollet
Zakia Khattabi
416,4526.142.84 Increase2.svg
13 / 150
7 Increase2.svg
Green (Groen) Meyrem Almaci 413,8366.100.78 Increase2.svg
8 / 150
2 Increase2.svg
Humanist Democratic Centre (cdH) Maxime Prévot 250,8613.701.28 Decrease2.svg
5 / 150
4 Decrease2.svg
Democratic, Federalist, Independent (DéFI) Olivier Maingain 150,3942.220.42 Increase2.svg
2 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
People's Party (PP) Mischaël Modrikamen 75,0961.110.41 Decrease2.svg
0 / 150
1 Decrease2.svg
DierAnimal Constance Villalon 47,7330.70New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Listes Destexhe Alain Destexhe 42,7120.63New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Collectif Citoyen21,0920.31New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
La Droite15,0750.220.16 Decrease2.svg
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Nation Hervé Van Laethem 10,5830.160.00 Steady2.svg
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Les Belges d'Abord10,4630.15New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Agir7,5980.11New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Pirate Party 7,5210.110.23 Decrease2.svg
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Belgian Union (BUB) Hans Van De Cauter 6,6110.100.08 Decrease2.svg
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
D-SA5,9490.09New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Lutte Ouvrière5,7350.080.03 Increase2.svg
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
PRO5,6820.08New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Wallonie Insoumise5,3540.08New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
PV&S3,2170.05New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
De Coöperatie1,7320.03New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Volt Europa (Volt)1,6690.02New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Communist Party of Belgium (PCB) Arne Baillière 1,6260.02New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Turquoise6260.01New
0 / 150
0 Steady2.svg
Valid votes6,780,53893.93
Blank and invalid votes438,0956.07
Totals7,218,633100.001500Steady2.svg
Electorate (eligible voters) and voter turnout8,167,70988.38
Source: Federal Public Services Home Affairs

Senate

Since 2014, the Senate consists of 60 members. There are two categories of senators: co-opted senators and senators of community and regional parliaments.

50 senators are elected by and from the community and regional parliaments: 29 by the Flemish Parliament, 10 by the Parliament of the French Community, 8 by the Walloon Parliament, 2 by the French-language group of the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region, and 1 by the Parliament of the German-speaking Community.

The 10 other senators are co-opted: elected by the 50 other senators. Eligibility requirements for the Senate are identical to those for the Chamber.

Before 2014, the Senate consisted of 71 senators, only 21 of which were elected by the community parliaments. 25 were directly elected by the Flemish-speaking constituency and 15 by the French-speaking constituency. The last direct election of these 40 members occurred in the 2010 federal elections. The 2014 elections are the first one with the reformed Senate.

The President of the Senate since 2014 has been Christine Defraigne (MR). The Senate holds its plenary meetings in the Palace of the Nation, Brussels.

Legislative procedure

Since the elections of 21 May 1995, there has been a breakdown of powers between the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate, which resulted in the latter having fewer competences than the Chamber of Representatives. Prior to that, the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate did the same parliamentary work on an equal footing, but now there are three different legislative procedures that can be followed: the one-chamber procedure, the optional two-chamber procedure, and the mandatory two-chamber procedure.

In certain matters both Chambers have equal power. These include constitutional revisions, laws requiring a qualified majority, laws on the basic structure of the Belgian State, laws approving agreements of cooperation between the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions, laws on the approval of international treaties, and laws on the organisation of the judiciary, the Council of State, and the Constitutional Court. In this case, the mandatory bicameral procedure applies, which means that both Chambers must pass exactly the same version of the bill.

For most other legislation, the Chamber of Representatives takes precedence over the Senate and the optional bicameral procedure applies. This means that the Senate may still intervene as a chamber of consideration and reflection. It has the opportunity to, within specific time limits, examine the bills adopted by the Chamber of Representatives and, if there is a reason to do so, make amendments. The Chamber may subsequently adopt or reject the amendments proposed by the Senate or make new proposals. The Senate can also submit a bill it has adopted to the Chamber, which can approve, reject or amend it. Whatever the case, the Chamber has the final word.

The one-chamber procedure applies in cases where the Chamber of Representatives has the sole power to legislate. It means that the Senate cannot intervene and that the Senate's approval is not required for the bill to pass. The matters for which the Chamber of Representatives is exclusively responsible include naturalisations, ministerial liability, State budget and accounts and military quotas.

United Chambers

The United Chambers (Dutch : Verenigde Kamers, French : Chambres réunies, German : Vereinigten Kammern) is the name given to the body created when both chambers of the Federal Parliament meet in joint session. The United Chambers are convened only on certain occasions enumerated in the Belgian Constitution: the King must take the constitutional oath before the United Chambers, in accordance with article 91 of the Constitution, and the United Chambers must provide for the regency in the event that the successor to the Crown is a minor or the King is unable to reign, in accordance with articles 92 and 93 of the Constitution. The last session of the United Chambers took place on 21 July 2013, when King Philippe of Belgium took the constitutional oath. [1]

Palace of the Nation

A view of the Palace of the Nation in the 1890s The Palace of Nations, Brussels, Belgium-LCCN2001697908.tif
A view of the Palace of the Nation in the 1890s

The Palace of the Nation (French : Palais de la Nation; Dutch : Paleis der Natie) was built to a Neoclassical design by French architect Gilles-Barnabé Guimard from 1779 to 1783 and includes sculptures by Gilles-Lambert Godecharle. Under Austrian rule it housed the Sovereign Council of Brabant before being used as a courthouse during the French period. During the Dutch period it was one of two homes of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, the other being in the Hague. The provisional Government of Belgium and the Belgian National Congress moved into the building in 1830 and the first session of the House of Representatives and Senate was held there a year later.

It stands near the site of the former palace of the Dukes of Brabant, which was destroyed by fire in 1731, and has itself been badly damaged by fire, in 1820 and 1883. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Politics of Belgium Political system of Belgium

The politics of Belgium take place in the framework of a federal, representative democratic, constitutional monarchy. The King of the Belgians is the head of state, and the Prime Minister of Belgium is the head of government, in a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives. The federation is made up of (language-based) communities and (territorial) regions. Philippe is the seventh and current King of the Belgians, having ascended the throne on 21 July 2013.

Flemish Brabant Province of Belgium

Flemish Brabant is a province of Flanders, one of the three regions of Belgium. It borders on the Belgian provinces of Antwerp, Limburg, Liège, Walloon Brabant, Hainaut and East Flanders. Flemish Brabant also surrounds the Brussels-Capital Region. Its capital is Leuven. It has an area of 2,118 km2 (818 sq mi) which is divided into two administrative districts containing 65 municipalities. As of January 2019, Flemish Brabant has a population of 1,146,175.

Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium

Belgium is a federal state comprising three communities and three regions that are based on four language areas. For each of these subdivision types, the subdivisions together make up the entire country; in other words, the types overlap.

Provinces of Belgium

The country of Belgium is divided into three regions. Two of these regions, the Flemish Region or Flanders, and Walloon Region, or Wallonia, are each subdivided into five provinces. The third region, the Brussels Capital Region, is not divided into provinces, as it was originally only a small part of a province itself.

DéFI

DéFI is a social-liberal, liberal, regionalist political party in Belgium mainly known for defending French-speakers’ interests in and near the Brussels region. The party has been led since 1995 by Olivier Maingain, a member of the Chamber of Representatives. The party's current name, DéFI or Défi, is a backronym of Démocrate, Fédéraliste, Indépendant meaning "challenge" in French which was adopted in 2016.

Municipalities with language facilities

There are 27 municipalities with language facilities in Belgium which must offer linguistic services to residents in either Dutch, French, or German in addition to their single official languages. All other municipalities – with the exception of those in the bilingual Brussels region – are unilingual and only offer services in their official languages, either Dutch or French.

Senate (Belgium)

The Senate is one of the two chambers of the bicameral Federal Parliament of Belgium, the other being the House of Representatives. It is considered to be the "upper house" of the Federal Parliament. Created in 1831 as a chamber fully equal to the Chamber of Representatives, it has undergone several reforms in the past, most notably in 1993 and 2014. The 2014 elections were the first without a direct election of senators. Instead, the new Senate is composed of members of community and regional parliaments and co-opted members. It is a chamber of the communities and regions and serves as a platform for discussion and reflection about matters between these federated entities. The Senate today plays a minor role in the federal legislative process. However, the Senate, together with the Chamber, has full competence for the Constitution and legislation on the organization and functioning of the Federal State and the federated entities. Since the reform of 2014, it holds about ten plenary sessions a year.

Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde

The area within Belgium known as Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde encompasses the bilingual—French and Dutch—Brussels-Capital Region, which coincides with the arrondissement of Brussels-Capital and the surrounding Dutch-speaking area of Halle-Vilvoorde, which in turn coincides with the arrondissement of Halle-Vilvoorde. Halle-Vilvoorde contains several municipalities with language facilities, i.e. municipalities where French-speaking people form a considerable part of the population and therefore have special language rights. This area forms the judicial arrondissement of Brussels, which is the location of a tribunal of first instance, enterprise tribunal and a labour tribunal. It was reformed in July 2012, as part of the sixth Belgian state reform.

Elections in Belgium Political elections for public offices in Belgium

Elections in Belgium are organised for legislative bodies only, and not for executive functions. Direct elections take place for the European Parliament, the bicameral Federal Parliament, the Parliaments of the Communities and Regions, the provincial councils, the municipal councils and a few district councils. Voting is mandatory and all elections use proportional representation which in general requires coalition governments.

Arrondissements of Belgium are subdivisions below the provinces of Belgium. There are administrative, judicial and electoral arrondissements. These may or may not relate to identical geographical areas.

Chamber of Representatives (Belgium) Lower house of the federal parliament of Belgium

The Chamber of Representatives is one of the two chambers in the bicameral Federal Parliament of Belgium, the other being the Senate. It is considered to be the "lower house" of the Federal Parliament.

Joris Van Hauthem was a Belgian politician who was floor leader in the Belgian Senate for the Flemish movement Vlaams Belang party. He was born in Anderlecht, Brussels and lived in Lennik. He died at home on 25 March 2015 due to cancer.

2007 Belgian federal election

The 2007 Belgian federal election took place on Sunday 10 June 2007. Voters went to the polls in order to elect new members for the Chamber of Representatives and Senate.

Constitution of Belgium

The Constitution of Belgium dates back to 1831. Since then Belgium has been a parliamentary monarchy that applies the principles of ministerial responsibility for the government policy and the Trias Politica. The Constitution established Belgium as a centralised unitary state. However, since 1970, through successive state reforms, Belgium has gradually evolved into a federal state.

Arrondissement of Brussels-Capital Administrative Arrondissement in Brussels Capital Region, Belgium

The Arrondissement of Brussels-Capital is the only administrative arrondissement in the Brussels Capital Region in Belgium. Because it is the only administrative arrondissement in the Brussels Region, its territory coincides with that of the latter.

Union des Francophones

The Union of Francophones is a political party in Belgium that participates as electoral lists in regional, provincial, and municipal elections in the Flemish Province of Flemish Brabant. As its name suggests, its primary target is the French-speaking community of Flemish Brabant and particularly those who live in the officially Dutch-speaking area Halle-Vilvoorde including the now predominantly French-speaking municipalities with language facilities in the Brussels Periphery. Its main goal is to provide both constitutional exemptions for and privileges to Francophones living in Dutch-speaking Flanders, for example by annexing the municipalities with language facilities to the officially bilingual Brussels-Capital Region.

State reform in Belgium

State reform, in Belgium, context is the ongoing process of seeking and finding constitutional and legal solutions to the problems and tensions in the different segments of the Belgian population, mostly between the Dutch-speakers of Flanders and the French-speakers of Wallonia. In general, Belgium has evolved from a unitary state to a federal state with communities, regions, and language areas.

Pirate Party (Belgium)

The Pirate Party of Belgium is a political party in Belgium. Based on the model of the Swedish Pirate Party, it supports reform of copyright law, the abolition of patents, and respect for privacy. It was a founding member of Pirate Parties International.

Federal elections were held in Belgium on 25 May 2014. All 150 members of the Chamber of Representatives were elected, whereas the Senate was no longer directly elected following the 2011–2012 state reform. These were the first elections held under King Philippe's reign.

References

  1. The Chamber of Representatives and the Senate of Belgium. "Solemn session of the United Chambers of Monday 9 August 1993 for hearing the constitutional oath of H.M. Albert II, King of the Belgians" (PDF). Minutes of the United Chambers (in French and Dutch). The Belgian Chamber of Representatives. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-17.
  2. "Palace Of The Nation - Belgian Federal Parliament on EarthInPictures.com". www.earthinpictures.com.

Coordinates: 50°50′48″N4°21′53″E / 50.84667°N 4.36472°E / 50.84667; 4.36472